What moved a prominent 19th century visitor to declare George, "the prettiest village on the face of the earth", is not entirely clear. Granted, the town was a whole lot smaller and leafier in those days, and yes, the Outeniqua Mountains to the back of the town are truly striking. The CBD itself, however, is an unexciting and confusing sprawl catering mostly to the building trade - or, what's left of it. Most associate George with either golf, the political home of ex-Groot Krokodil, PW Botha, or the actual home of disgraced cricketer Hansie Cronje who, in a twist of tragic fate, met his end in a plane crash on the mountain slopes behind the town.
If you are going to base yourself here, make sure to find a spot out of the commercial bustle - either out of town or in George's leafy 'burbs above the commercial centre.
Things To Do
- Evidence of George's varied past, as a 19th century administrative outpost, a staging post for travelers heading east and a timber centre, can be found in a few historical buildings around town. Consecrated in 1850 and, for about 15 years, the southern hemisphere's smallest cathedral, St Mark's Cathedral is probably the most worthwhile church of several to visit. The timber industry is the main theme of the George Museum on Courtenay Street, which is housed in the original town hall, while the Outeniqua Transport Museum has a replica of an old station and several locomotives among its exhibits - it was also the start of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, which chugged along through some of the country's most picturesque scenery. Sadly, it's no longer.
- With 38 000ha of majestic fynbos-clad mountain and verdant forest, the Outeniqua Nature Reserve is a good venue to cleanse those nicotine-stained lungs. Several walks ranging from two hours to two days, informal mountain bike trails and a moderate 4x4 route are among the offerings.
- For a taste of ocean, Victoria Bay (9km from George) and Herolds Bay (18km) are your best bet. The former offers brilliant surfing, fishing, a small beach and a tidal pool, while Herolds Bay is an attractive rocky cove circled by oversized holiday houses clinging to the mountainside.
- If you're at your happiest behind the wheel, the Montagu Pass, the Outeniqua Pass and the Seven Passes road are well worth a leisurely cruise. A 250-strong chain gang built the Montagu Pass between 1845-1847; highlights on this engineering accomplishment include the Keur River Bridge and the old Toll House, both national monuments. Combine it with the Outeniqua Pass and you're looking at an hour or so in the car. Fifteen years in the making, the Seven Passes road between George and Knysna is a somewhat longer but wonderful drive, winding through indigeneous forest, steep ravines and farmland.
- With four of the country's top golf courses draped around the town (including prestigious Fancourt), it is little wonder that George is fast becoming synonymous with package golf holidays.
Where You'll Also Find Us
Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) • Barrydale • Baviaanskloof • Betty's Bay • Bonnievale • Bredasdorp • Caledon • Calitzdorp • Cape Agulhas & Struisbaai • Cape Peninsula & Surrounds • Ceres • Citrusdal • Clanwilliam & Cederberg • Darling • De Rust • Elands Bay • Gansbaai • George • Grabouw & Elgin Valley • Greyton • Hermanus • Hogsback • Knysna • Ladismith • Malgas • Matjiesfontein • McGregor • Montagu • Mossel Bay • Napier • Oudtshoorn • Paarl • Plettenberg Bay • Porterville • Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond • Riebeek West & Riebeek-Kasteel • Robertson • St Helena Bay • Stanford • Stellenbosch • Stilbaai • Sutherland • Swellendam • Tulbagh • Velddrif • Vermaaklikheid • Wellington • Wilderness • Worcester & Hex Valley • Yzerfontein